Category: General Information

Recovery – The Red Headed Stepchild

This article is in no way intended to offend any red haired people.  Just a quick disclaimer because hey, I’m Canadian and I don’t want to offend anyone.  

When I talk to people about fitness it is usually about an overall picture of wellness.  This includes strength training, cardiovascular work, mobility, stress reduction and of course nutrition.  There is another component that frequently gets ignored, ostracized and sometimes even laughed at by some athletes even though it is usually one of the first thing I recommend to many people:

Recovery.

This means rest, of course.  A lot of people don’t understand the concept.  It also means other things though.

I tell my athletes all the time that the workout is one part, but how your body responds to the workout is another thing entirely.  Your tissue starts adapting to whatever stress you have put it under immediately.  Often, if the workout is quite intense even your CNS will have taken on quite a bit of stress and need time to adapt and recover.  Muscles have micro traumas that need to repair, inflammation is generated and even organs like your heart can have taken a bit of a beating.  The actual deep science is well explained here.

Does this mean you can’t train the same muscle or movement daily?  Of course not.  The body will adapt over time and if you are an experienced exerciser then it is easier to frequently subject the body to load and force and have it respond in a positive way.  The body is a remarkably adaptive thing.  However, if you want it to improve, then you have to give it a chance to get stronger and sometimes this means doing nothing at all.

The time it takes to sufficiently repair tissue varies according to a bunch of variables, but here are a couple of the criteria I use with clients to give them a checklist to see if they need more recovery:

Is it SORE?  This doesn’t mean that you can’t work it again, but if your muscles obviously can’t control the movement or you have restrictions then it is probably a good idea to let them rest.  I always suggest a long warm up process and see how things feel – if after this you still feel sore and tired then let it go.

Oviedo, Asturias, Spain, athlete woman recovering after training

Doing an easier workout can greatly enhance recovery. 

Are you FORCING the workout?  You may need a rest day if you feel like you can’t give 100% effort and you’re just driving yourself further into the ground.  Instead of making things better often this will actually make things worse.

Can you CONTROL your movements adequately?  This means you can use good form in a weightlifting movement, achieve proper cadence or turnover in an endurance workout, or maintain position if doing a static pose as if in yoga.  Lack of control means either your nervous or muscular system can’t work as hard and likely needs more rest.

This also does not mean that recovery can’t be ACTIVE.  My athletes often do a short recovery run or bike after their long workouts.  This moves the tissue in question, puts extra blood flow through it and can actually speed the recovery process.  Taking a day to focus exclusively on mobility and release work can also help this process, and if you’re planning on working out intensely I’d actually suggest that it is mandatory to have at least one day devoted to this process.

This can mean warming up the tissue that needs attention with light movement, then working on adding blood flow into the fluid.  Massage is an excellent technique for this.  Many people make the mistake of going too hard into their tissue with hard foam rolling and really hard stretching, which can often be counterproductive over time.

tuneup

Strength and mobility does not disappear overnight or even after a few days.  However, if you over train and cause an injury this can set you back for weeks.  Think of it as a risk/reward scenario and that it simply isn’t worth the risk for a possible minor short term gain.  Too many athletes force themselves back into exercise too soon without taking the proper care and making sure that things have properly healed.

Always remember that exercise should be a life long endeavor and you can’t force things to heal faster.  Taking the time to recovery properly as part of your program means that you will be able to improve more frequently and make progress without any setbacks.  This essential part of fitness should not be overlooked by any serious athlete.

If you want to know more about recovery or have any feedback feel free to contact me, comment or find me on Facebook  and Twitter at @paradigmottawa.  Also, please share this with any athlete you think might need help with the recovery side of things.  Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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What Did You Accomplish This Year?

A pretty simple concept post this week for my readers.  Often when I’m dealing with clients I find one of the most important things for them is to get them to think long term, ie set annual goals and stick to them consistently throughout a calendar year.

We also tend to not give ourselves enough credit.  It’s so easy to think of what you haven’t got versus what you have.  If you’re healthier, fitter and most important happier at the end of the year, you’ve really won most of the battle.

So if you’re reading this post, I want you to think back to January of 2015.  You can even check your social media to see where you were at (one of the perks of it).  People today simply don’t think long term and then don’t give themselves proper credit for things they have actually accomplished.  One of my main goals in life (and hopefully yours too) is to always be pushing forward and trying to improve personally and professionally.

Here’s some examples from my own list, and I’ll also share some accomplishments I feel I had with some of my clients without naming any names.

  • Managed to correct a woman’s misdiagnosed tennis elbow in about thirty minutes applying common sense.
  • Allowed a client to bike in the mountains, which was a huge life goal for her after years of chronic pain and immobility.
  • Allowed a woman who had chronic fibromyalgia to experience pain free days for the first time in eight years.
  • Was able to successfully rehabilitate a tibial plateau fracture to the point where the client can now run, jump and play sports (something she was told she shouldn’t do ever again).
  • Took a running client to a 13 minute marathon personal best.
  • Dealt with a couple of very rare conditions (I won’t get into details here) but they have really allowed me to increase my level of care and knowledge.
  • Have managed to get several people into the best shape of their lives at a fairly advanced age and dealing with chronic hip, back and neck issues.

On a personal level:

  • Welcomed my second daughter into the world who is a busy little bug and now that she can move around gets into anything and everything. She’s going to be an athlete for sure.
  • Began working on my first course and book, to be fleshed out and hopefully presented for the first time in 2016.
  • My band has taken off and I’m much more comfortable behind the microphone by far – check out getoffmylawn.rocks if you want to check us out or book a show.
  • Currently symptom free from my previous heart condition and hoping that remains the same.
  • I weigh exactly the same as I did twenty years ago.

Dave4

So when you look back on your year, give yourself a pat on the back for what you have accomplished, no matter how small and insignificant it might seem.  Then sit down and put together some goals for next year.

Think back on what you have done to mold the future and what you want to be.  The best way to do this is to set some really high standards and do your best to meet them.  Even if you don’t, by the time the end of next year rolls around you might be really surprised at what you have done versus what you haven’t.

If you want to share any of your upcoming goals, I’d love to hear what they are!  Feel free to spread this around on social media and maybe we can start a trend of goal planning.  Until 2016, I am so grateful for all of my loyal readers, friends and clients and next year will just bring bigger and better things!

How to Keep Resolutioners in the Gym

I know this might be a bit early, but in three weeks it is 2016 and a whole new set of people will be undertaking new fitness goals.  The first thing I need to mention is that in the fitness world there tends to be a lot of elitism, and I’ve already seen the “resolutionist” memes going around Facebook.  The fact we even have a nickname for new exercisers says it all.

With society the way it is and a massive obesity epidemic, we should all play our own part in not only helping these people get into fitness, but keeping them around as long as possible.  See – you’ve already swallowed the pill of fitness, but you are in the vast minority.  Over half the population doesn’t exercise at all, and only about 10% regularly (meaning 3x a week and sustained for over six months) because it just isn’t on their radar and never has been.  But something is going to drive them into a gym (besides marketing hype) very soon.  And for some reason many of them stop after a few weeks.

I want to keep them there.  I want to have thousands of people NOT stop working out after six weeks and get healthier.  Then hopefully some of those people can inspire others to get started, and snowball effect takes place and boom, no more obesity.  Pipe dream?  Maybe.  But we can all do our part to help keep as many around as possible.

So here’s a list of ways as “fitness people” we can all help make sure that whomever you know who is getting started stays at it long term and gets to the state that you’re in:  loving exercise and feeling a ton better.

Gym-Newbie

STOP GIVING ADVICE AND GIVE SUPPORT INSTEAD

Your friend/co-worker/spouse knows you’re a fitness person.  It’s probably obvious when you talk about what you did on the weekend or take off your jacket.  Our instinct as soon as someone outside of our world wants to jump in is to tell them what worked for us, which simply may not be what would motivate or work for that person.  Don’t tell them to start running five times a week for weight loss, or start deadlifting like you do.  They are likely getting it from multiple sources and it can be not only confusing but overwhelming.  People don’t change overnight.

The simplest thing is to say “awesome news!” and if they ask questions tell them what worked for you, but also let them know what you went through in order to arrive at that conclusion.  Hopefully they will figure out something for themselves.  If they went to the gym that morning, give them a high five and leave it at that.  Let them know that it took you as a fitness person a long time to get to where you’re at and if they want to get support, you’re there but don’t overdo it.

And please don’t suddenly become a personal trainer and offer to work out with them and show them everything you do.  Swallow your pride and tell them if they need it to hire a professional.  You probably did too.

ASK WHAT THEIR ANNUAL GOAL IS

Typically the first few weeks as a new exerciser is confusing and tough.  It is a new thing to fit into your schedule, you have no idea what you’re doing and are nervous every time you step into a facility.  As a method of support, ask them where they want to be at the end of the YEAR.  Not next month.  Again, I’m trying to reinforce the long term aspect of this for sustainability.

Another way to motivate them might be “you know, I signed up for a Spartan Race in June – you should think about it” or “Hey, I’m thinking about doing the Army ½ marathon in September so I started training for the 10k in May”.  Let them know how long it takes to achieve things.  By next Christmas, where do they want to be?  With any luck it will trigger the need to sustain what they are doing.

INTRODUCE THEM TO YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK

We all have one.  Maybe you have a trainer you really like and have gotten great results from.  Maybe you get amazing recipes from a web site you love.  Maybe you subscribe to a message board you got a lot of support from.  Maybe they could sub in on your winter ultimate team and see how much fun group sports can be.  Introduce them to someone they see you talking to at the gym.

One of the hardest things any person can do is walk into a gym for the first time, and if they approach you and just need a friendly face, don’t get upset that they interrupted your third set of squats.  Take a longer rest break and chat for a bit, even if you’re there to work hard.  It won’t kill you or your gains.

SHOW THEM WHAT OPTIONS THERE ARE

Some people just aren’t gym people, and that’s fine.  The world of health literally has unlimited options.  I have a client whose husband is a World Champion in Skijoring, which is like sled dogging on a bicycle and sounds totally awesome (and I had never heard of it).  Whether it’s pole dancing, skating, weightlifting or aquafit, the fact that people are moving at all is really great.

So maybe your person seems to feel like the gym isn’t for them.  You probably have a friend who does something else cool that you can tell them about.  Even as kids we all either played individual or team sports and that rarely changes as an adult.  Ultimate Frisbee might not work, but then racquet sports might.  Plus the challenge of learning something new is always fun.

PLAY NICE IN THE SANDBOX

This final one is for all of the people who complain about the “clutter” in the gym in January.  Instead of thinking that “these people” are doing something wrong, change your attitude.  Smile at them.  Offer to let them work in on whatever you are using.  If you see someone looking lost offer to help them.  Be nice.  Once, you were probably that person (I know I was).

Remember, these people are probably watching everything you are doing because you’re the fitness person and they want to get there.  Being nice to newcomers can go a long way in getting them to stick around and feel like part of a community.  CrossFit boxes are fantastic at this because they are usually totally inclusionary and that’s how they retain people.  And those people make progress, at least far more than they would on the couch at home.

Sometimes a simple “hey, are you new here” and an offer to help can go a long way.  Be nice.

quits

If you liked this, please share it around and take it to heart.  I’m not just writing this for fitness people, by the way.  If you are thinking about stepping into a gym for the first time, please don’t be intimidated.  There is a world of options out there and a lot of really good people and support for you.

My other advice is also don’t wait until January and just get started now, but that’s a whole other article.

Feel free to follow, share and like this and until next time make sure if you see someone in January you help them out!

The One Key to Results

Having been in this training profession for almost fifteen years, I’ve dealt with hundreds of people and helped them get healthier, stronger and feeling better about themselves.  I’ve helped people lose 100 pounds, complete Ironman triathlons, recover from what they thought were permanent physical conditions, and given people the chance to live longer.  It’s a pretty awesome job.

I get the question all of the time – what’s the big answer?  What’s the key to getting through my barriers, getting the body I want or achieving that big goal I have?  My first answer is usually that goals should never really end.  You achieve one thing and then you keep moving forward towards something else.

Lost the weight you wanted?  Great!  Now, work on using your new body towards something cool like climbing a mountain or taking up a sport.

Completed that race?  Great!  When’s the next one.  Do you want to go longer, be faster or simply perform better overall?

Got through an injury?  Great!  Now, can you get better than you were before and make sure that injury never happens again?

But what is the big answer to all of these things?  It’s actually one really simple word that when applied can actually guarantee that you will achieve what you want.  I’m going to share this powerful word with you in the hopes that it will sink in and resonate and drive you today and tomorrow and from now on towards your goals.  And it’s so simple.

Ready?  You sure?

Here it is:

consistency_quote

CONSISTENCY

This one little concept is what has created most of the success in the world.  Thomas Edison when he was inventing the lightbulb (okay, he didn’t invent it but he did develop the first commercially useful one) supposedly made 9,999 mistakes.  And he kept going.  Athletes at a high level train for YEARS – daily – in order to achieve a high level at anything.  Business people who are at the top of the game didn’t get there overnight or by fluke.  They have many, many years of 7 days weeks, no holidays and sacrificing to make sure they get to where they want to be.

Most of us simply aren’t willing to do this.  We want the easy way, we want it fast and convenient like everything in society has programmed us to be.  We want to microwave, not slow cook.  We want to get liposuction, not eat right and exercise.  We want that text message or email response right away.

One act at a time, one simple little thing at a time – done consistently – ensures that you are always moving forward and inevitably one day you will get to where you want to be.  Every workout, every time you cook a healthy meal or don’t eat something you used to, every time you set the alarm early you’re moving forward.  And if you stay consistent and just don’t stop then you’re definitely going to get there.  It’s really that simple.

Success doesn’t come overnight.  It never has and it never will unless you believe in winning the lottery.  Those people who are where you want to be got there through hard work and consistency, every time.  Nobody was born with a perfect body, nobody was born with a million dollar business.  Athletes train since they are children and never take years off.

A pretty simple concept, right?  The hard part is applying it.  So if you’re working towards something you really, really want (and that has to be the case otherwise you simple aren’t going to get there) just stay consistent.  Whatever that means to you.  For some of my clients it is once a week, for some it is several times – but they are consistent about it.

So start with the one simple step.  A daily act or one small step every day no matter how small as long as it is consistent is moving you forward.  And just keep doing it.

I hope this helped you.  Feel free to share, like and tweet me out if you enjoy what I share with you and as always, if you have any questions or comments just share away.  I look forward to helping you!